Harrogate Councillors call for KPMG report to be made public

05 November 2020 Consultancy.uk 2 min. read

A local council is coming under pressure to make a report prepared by consultants from KPMG public. The firm put a paper on the reorganisation of Harrogate Borough Council, but so far the authority has resisted calls for the publicly funded document to be released.

While ruling councils across the county agree on devolution for York and North Yorkshire, including an elected super mayor, there is deep division on how to slim down the district councils in response to this. North Yorkshire County Council favours abolishing all existing district councils and creating a new unitary authority covering the whole of North Yorkshire while preserving the existing City of York unitary authority. In contrast, the county’s seven district council leaders, including the likes of Craven, Richmondshire, Scarborough, Selby and Harrogate, support the creation of two unitary authorities with a similar population and economic size.

Recently, the leaders of the seven district and borough councils in North Yorkshire commissioned KPMG to support the development of a business case for local government reorganisation. In August it completed a preliminary report on the various options, and on the basis of the paper, councils based a preference for an East-West split over a single unitary authority for North Yorkshire.

Harrogate Councillors call for KPMG report to be made public

The decision has caused more than a little controversy since. The latest chapter of the unfolding drama has seen Borough of Harrogate councillors from the Liberal Democrats calling on the authority to release the tax-payer funded report on council reorganisation that KPMG was commissioned to put together – as well as details of how much has been spent and what guidance KPMG has been given throughout the process.

So far, the council’s leadership has resisted calls for the report’s release. A statement read that “full details will be published” only once agreed by elected members “within all seven councils before it is submitted to government.”

In response, Councillor Pat Marsh said, “If Conservatives aren’t going to consult with residents on the future of local services, the very least they can do is be transparent about how decisions are being made. Unfortunately this is typical of our Conservative-run Council. It won’t speak to residents or their elected representatives about huge issues like this, and when it does it is telling them what is happening at the eleventh hour, rather allowing any input. It would appear that Richard Cooper would rather rule by decree than risk hearing a differing view.”

The Borough of Harrogate is a local government district and borough of North Yorkshire, England. Its council is based in the town of Harrogate, but it also includes surrounding towns and villages. The population encapsulated in that area at the census of 2011 was 157,869, and it has been governed by a Conservative majority since 2010.